Data or header cells should not be used to give caption to a data table

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Rule Description

Data table markup can be tedious and confusing. Screen readers have a number of features to make table navigation easier, but tables must be marked up accurately for these features to work properly. Some tables use cells with a colspan to visually indicate a caption, instead of using an actual caption element.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Checks that data tables are marked up with table cells that use a colspan to visually indicate a caption.

Why this is Important

Screen readers have a specific way of announcing tables. When tables are not properly marked up with a caption element, this creates the opportunity for confusing or inaccurate screen reader output.

How to Fix the Problem

To fix the problem, ensure the table has a caption (best practice), instead of a cells with a colspan to visually indicate a caption.

Compliance Data & User Impact

User Impact: Serious
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
Issue Type:
  • WCAG 2.0 (A): SHOULD
  • Section 508: MUST
  • Deque Experimental
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • 1.3.1 Info and Relationships
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • 1194.22 (g) Row and column headers for data tables

Related Deque University Course Pages

Related Deque Code Library Examples

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML 5
Relevant Custom Widget Type(s):
  • Table - Sortable
  • Table - Responsive
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: table-fake-caption